Tucumcari graduate earns UNM medical degree

Staff Report

Tucumcari High School graduate Brian Lopez has completed one of his childhood goals this weekend, graduating from the Bachelor of Arts to Medical Doctor Degree Program at the University of New Mexico’s School of Medicine in Albuquerque.

Lopez, a 2007 THS graduate, had an impressive athletic career with the Rattlers.

At 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, Lopez, made all-state and all-district football teams at linebacker and running back and was also the runner up several times in Class 2A state wrestling tournaments. In his junior year, Lopez, was one of hundreds of high school football players invited to the Midwest Elite Football Combine, at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Though Lopez was a prospect to many coaches at the combine, he was still adamant about his desire to pursue his medical degree after high school.

Lopez followed through with that dream when he entered UNM’s second BA-MD Degree Program class in 2007.

A program that UNM’s SOM created the BA-MD program nine years ago with support from the New Mexico State Legislature to recruit talented New Mexico high school seniors from across the state who show a proclivity and passion for the health sciences.

This approach to growing native New Mexico physicians guides a diverse group of 28 high school seniors annually from throughout the state into a specialized undergraduate curriculum at UNM.

Students who meet specific academic standards through UNM undergraduate school earn enrollment in UNM’s nationally ranked School of Medicine. There, students intent on practicing in the state embark on a medical school curriculum and training focused on the particular health care needs of New Mexicans. Ultimately the program was developed to serve underrepresented/underserved New Mexico communities.

“It’s critical that we continue to recognize and nurture the academic talent in our smaller towns and communities, while developing practicing physicians in underserved areas of our state,” says BA-MD Executive Director Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, UNM Health Sciences Center vice chancellor for diversity.

Lopez will continue his training in family medicine at the University of Montana in Missoula.

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